Branding can sounds like an overwhelmingly large topic to cover. If you are wondering what a brand is and what it means for your marketing, check out our blog post about that here.

This post is focused on how to establish a brand, exercises you can do to help your team establish that brand, and strategies to implement the brand in your marketing.

  1. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We suggest starting by looking at examples from other companies with similarities to your brand. Of course, it’s important to to actually imitate or copy their look, but use what you find for inspiration, ideas, and feel. Sometimes when you come to a team meeting, it can be hard to articulate what you’re looking for and giving your team an example can help everyone visualize the look together. Look beyond just your industry competition, though. If you’re a corporate candle company, don’t just search other candle companies. Look at other business/corporate gifts, B2B companies, or brands. Find companies who have a well-established brand, focus on what they’ve done right, and implement that into your own, unique branding strategy.
  2. Name three words that describe the personality of your company. Keep it short and simple. Which three words or descriptions sum up your brand? For a good list of words to start with, check out this graphic from ESL Buzz. Sure it’s talking about characters in a novel, but view yourbrand is the character of your business. Thinking of your brand as a person can help you to describe “their” sense of humor, their voice, and the way they interact online. Big brands like Oreo, Nike, and Apple all have very distinct qualities about them that separate their voices from the millions of other brands.
  3. Make a list of what your brand is not. Sometimes thinking of the opposite can help guide your content. If we are working with a fast food brand that is a snarky and quick-witted brand, chances are they probably won’t post about luxury or use dark images, unless it’s in a comical way. They’ll keep their brand light and playful to symbolize fun, energy, and a fast-paced atmosphere, all things you’d expect to find at a fast food joint. If your brand appeals to the wealthy, words like “discount” and “cheap” aren’t going to fit in your brand’s voice.
  4. Take your brand on a date. What would your brand order for dinner? Are they the kind of date that talks the whole time or do they let you have a say? Is he going to open your door and be polite or let you be an independent woman? Think of branding as describing your brand on a dating website. You need to find the qualities your brand needs to have to attract the right kind of customers. Here’s a hint: Sprout Social says most customers look for a brand that is honest, friendly, helpful, and funny (sounds like a good date to us!). What does the brand choose to talk about?
  5. Practice, practice, practice.. Once you’ve nailed down the characteristics, style, and feel of your brand, it’s time to practice! Take a topic or a post idea and write it out in three or four different ways that could fit into this voice/style you’ve created. Have multiple team members take a stab at it. Brand and voice aren’t just in the copy, but the images, the emojis, and the overall aesthetic of a post or a social profile. A cohesive Instagram feed can say wonders about your brand. For example https://www.instagram.com/apple/. There aren’t any photos of Apple’s products, just photos #ShotoniPhone. Consider how images can work for your brand, as well. No one would ever confuse a Victoria Secret ad with a Bath and Bodyworks ad. The colors are different, the look is different. When creating your practice posts, choose images that match the look and feel you’re creating for your brand.

Coca-cola wouldn’t be where they are now without the classic, refreshing feel to their ads. Through the years they’ve changed up the delivery and characters (polar bears, Santa, supermodels, etc) but it’s always been about “that refreshing taste.” It’s because of consistent branding and voice that they’ve stayed on top as the #1 soda in America.

We learn from Coca-cola that, after all the planning and strategizing you’ve done, the best way to nail the brand is to stick to it. Be consistent and your brand awareness will be a valuable asset to your marketing strategy in 2019.